Game shows in the million-peso prize league

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The stakes were up as the masa relied on speed, luck, and their wit to win the coveted prize from these pioneer game shows that offered a whopping one million pesos.


In the past, television game shows started out with the simple purpose of providing fun for its viewers. But today, everything seems complicated. Contestants now look anxious and embattled upon hearing the simplest of questions during the elimination round. The atmosphere of competitiveness heats up until the last moment when only one player survives.

From then on, it's as if the whole world focuses on that one winner. The screaming crowd begins to sound like a conscience to the winner's ears. The game show host asks, would you like to go home with today's winnings? Or risk it all for the coveted million-peso prize?

Some back out at the last moment, of course, and take the booty rather than leave empty-handed. Others are willing to stretch their luck, and their nerves, to win capital perhaps for a business or to build a home. They are at the mercy of Lady Luck but they pray to heaven for a miracle.

Whew! That's just one scenario out of the numerous game shows that offer million-peso jackpot prizes. Mechanics and game paraphernalia may vary, and the excitement and pressure heighten as the prizes evolve from a million to two million and up.

PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) gives you its list of top five pioneering game shows that first handed out the coveted million. Whether they're from the noontime or primetime block, these game segments made the viewers happy and some of the contestants instant millionaires.

LABAN O BAWI. Laban o Bawi, forerunner of noontime show Eat Bulaga's game segment Itaktak Mo, became every Kapuso's ticket to being a millionaire. But first, they had to face the elimination round where they played a simple guessing game, with the game's hosts showing a single word with two exposed letters.

This game goes on until only one remains. The winning contestant then moves to the jackpot round where he chooses a box from a group of six. One of the boxes contains a number "1;" all the rest, zero. Luck should start accompanying the millionaire-wannabe if he arranges the boxes properly. The box with "1" should occupy the left-most spot. Otherwise, he goes home with any of these prizes: 100,000 pesos, 10,000, 1,ooo, 100, ten pesos—or alas, one peso!

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If the contestant is no risk taker, she can opt to take the host's offer. Actually, that's the essence of the game—either you say "bawi" (withdraw) if you want to go home with the usual amount (from P30,000 to P100,000) being offered by the host, or say "laban" (fight) if you want to try your luck in winning the one million-peso jackpot.



When Eat Bulaga underwent a reformat, Laban o Bawi was replaced by Itaktak Mo! O Tatakbo!

PERA O BAYONG. Pera o Bayong was one of the now defunct noontime show MTB's (Magandang Tanghali, Bayan) most popular segments. The original version of the game started with about 30-50 players answering multiple choice questions. The goal was to eliminate all and have just one contestant who would move on to the jackpot round.

During the jackpot round, he would be asked to choose one among the three bayongs marked M, T, or B. The prizes in each woven basketranged from one million, a house and lot, different showcases, to vegetables, or nothing.

After a series of reformatting, Pera o Bayong was reintroduced to the public by adding four more bayongs (totaling seven). Wowowee's version of Pera o Bayong included four major prizes: one million pesos, two million pesos, a house and lot, or a jeepney/taxi.

MTB has since evolved into Wowowee with Willie Revillame handling the reins solo this time. And with Wowowee comes Pera o Bayong's upgraded version: Wilyonaryo.

PILIPINAS, GAME KA NA BA? Year 2004's Pilipinas, Game KNB? invaded the noontime airwaves with Kris Aquino at the helm.

The game starts off with 10 contestants vying for the next round as Kris gives out the questions. Five contestants eventually make it, and then go through answering a series of questions in order to progress. This round has popularized the words "atras" and "abante." If the player answers the question correctly, she says, "Abante ako," or screams, "Atras siya at abante ako."

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The two persons who make it to the yellow lane advance to the next phase of the game where thay will face last week's winner. The two challengers and the defending champion square off on a trivia game. The host presents the different topics, then the three take turns giving the answers required by the topic. A wrong guess eliminates the player.

The winner of the said phase proceeds to the final round, where she may get the chance to a million pesos. Unlike the other games where luck figures a lot, GKNB contestants rely on speed and their general knowledge.

Another unique element of this show is that the winner can have another chance to win the one-million prize on the succeeding game.

Veteran quiz show host Edu Manzano first temporarily took over Kris Aquino last March 6, 2007, when the latter took a leave due to her difficult pregnancy. His hosting stint in the localized version of the BBC game show Weakest Link was probably why he was picked as the substitute host.

Three months later, he was designated as the permanent host. In August 2007, Edu took up another hosting challenge on the local version of 1 vs 100.

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? Originally a U.S. game show, the Philippine version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire became one of the industry's top "thinking games," with Drama King and now host Christopher de Leon running the show.

The player would work his way up the quiz ladder, each question becoming more difficult than the previous one. And the exciting twist of the game was, he didn't have to duke it out alone because of three unique privileges: call a friend, 50/50, and ask the audience.

"Call a friend" gave the player chance to speak to a friend, who would help him/her answer the question. "50/50," arguably the best option ever, could eliminate half of the choices. "Ask the audience" sought the help of the invited guests, who could either give the right answer or make the wrong guess.

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The first million-peso winner was university professor Amy Lopez-Forbes in July 2001. A celebrity edition was aired in December 2001, and Megastar Sharon Cuneta won the million-peso jackpot, which she donated to her favorite charities. The show eventually went off the air after its original studio was razed by fire.

K! THE ONE MILLION PESO VIDEOKE CHALLENGE. This one would probably be the most relaxing game show for Pinoys, if they had a good stock of "memorized songs."

First handled by Arnell Ignacio, the game had seven contestants who sang videoke pieces by filling out the blanks. The losers were eliminated after each round until only two remained.

The final players belted it out on a "1 on 1 sa Katayan," where the one who first pressed the buzzer and filled in the blanks correctly proceeded to the jackpot round. The finale required that the winner provide the correct words for the ten blanks on a song, plus its jackpot line. If he missed a word before the fifth blank, he would go home with his K!hilingan, which gives the winner an opportunity to help people or her favorite charity.

K! became a celebrity game show after Arnell Ignacio left. But viewers could still join as homepartner and get to win the amount won by the star.

To date, three celebrities have already won the one-million peso jackpot: Regine Velasquez (two-time winner), Mark Tupaz of Shamrock, and the StarStruck Kids avenger Sandy Talag. Iwa Moto and Sheena Halili also won twice but didn't get the big prize. The latest millionaire is EB Babe Belle.

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These game shows pave the way for the networks to increase the jackpot prize and raise people's resolve to enter the contest. But increasing the game prize should not be just an innovation. Every game should aspire for the win-win situation—the show gets more sponsors, TV viewers have more fun, and the contestants go home with more money and, especially, hope for better things to come.


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